Tag Archives: copyright

Protecting Your Intellectual Property

One of the things I love about being CLP’s Patent and Trademark Librarian is that it makes me think about different types of creativity. My creative pursuits have always tended towards making art, writing, and crafting, but in my role at CLP, I meet a lot of people who are developing inventions and innovations, as well as building businesses and coming up with trademarks to set their business apart from others. Any time you’ve put time and effort into creating something, whether it’s a song or painting, a new way to cure hiccups, or a name for your new business, knowing how to protect your intellectual property is something you’re probably interested in.

Figuring out what type of intellectual property law applies to you and how to go about filing for protection can be confusing. You might already know that you should search for patents before trying to get one yourself, but not know where to start.  You might want to see if another company is already using the name you want for your business but find that a Google search just isn’t cutting it. CLP has lots of books on intellectual property, including patents, trademarks, and copyright. We’re also a Patent and Trademark Resource Center (PTRC), which means that we can help you get started with your patent or trademark search.

If the resources above aren’t quite enough to get you started, CLP is hosting a free day-long workshop on Wednesday, May 14 with speakers from the PTRC Program of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Resource Center. They plan to cover a number of topics, including the different types of intellectual property protection; how to conduct a basic patent and trademark search; invention promotion forms, and provide an overview of some of the tools that are available for more advanced searchers (PubWEST and PubEAST). If you’d like to attend this free workshop, you can register here.


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Life After Life, After Life After Life

Neither U.S. nor UK copyright law protects titles of books. This means  that someday I can call my memoirs In the Pleasure Groove: Love, Death and Duran Duran without fear of legal reprisal (though I’d gladly entertain a hand-delivered cease and desist request). On a more practical note for you, the Eleventh Stack reader, however, it means that every now and again you’ll run into multiple books with the same title, which can prove a wee bit confusing when it’s time to make a catalog reservation.

Dear John: call me, maybe?

Dear John: call me, maybe?

Exhibit A: two novels called Life After Life, released just six days apart. What could have been a marketing nightmare turned out to be a boon for both novelists and their publishers, as the coincidence has piqued interest in both books. That means longer library waiting lists, though, so here’s a quick-and-dirty overview of each novel, to help you decide which one you’d like better, or if you’d be happy to  read both.

Jill McCorkle

mccorkleThe residents, staff, and visitors of Pine Haven Retirement Center are the focus of Jill McCorkle’s novel about the sweet memories and painful regrets that can rise to the surface as life winds down. A hospice volunteer dutifully records her charges’ dying moments, to teach herself about living well. Another staff member does her best to care for the residents while pondering how own difficult history and uncertain future. A once-powerful man fakes dementia to avoid meaningful conversations with his combative son. As the narrative point of view shifts from character to character, the reader sees how each person affects, and is affected by, the rest of the community, and how much power a single kindness–or cruelty–can have. Although the subject matter is unavoidably heavy–we all have to die sometime–it is also laced with what I can only describe as “realistic hope,” the notion that one person’s voice can be heard, that a single life is precious. On the whole, McCorkle’s given us an honest look at what it means to live well and die well, one that will resonate with anyone who’s ever pondered her/his own mortality or otherwise dealt with hospice/end-of-life issues.

Reserve this if: you enjoyed The Secret Life of Bees or The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (originally published as These Foolish Things); you like fiction set in the American South (think Sarah Addison Allen, but with more realism and less magic); you’re looking for fiction that strikes a balance somewhere between “literary” and “beach-read”; you don’t mind the uncomfortable looks people give you when they ask what the book is about and you say “death.”

Kate Atkinson

If anything that doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, what happens to you when things kill you over and over? This far-fetched atkinsonrhetorical question is no joke for Ursula Todd, who dies–sometimes quite horribly–and is reborn again and again, always into the same family. Atkinson–whose Jackson Brodie mysteries already have quite a following–will earn plenty of new fans with this speculative twist on the historical novel, which focuses heavily on England’s participation in WWII. Atkinson’s ambitious premise is that the life of one person can mirror the life of a nation, and as Ursula rises, falls, and rises again, so does England. The tone is decidedly British, which includes not only the loving descriptions of everyday objects Anglophiles adore in their fiction, but also the pluck and dry wit that embody the national sense of humor.

Reserve this if: you enjoyed Code Name Verity or Downtown Abbey; your television set is perpetually tuned to BBC America; you’ve ever spent far too much time contemplating the Hitler Murder Paradox.

See why you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover? If both of these titles were in your hands right now, which one would you check out first, and why?

Leigh Anne


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An eBook for Every Reader

In addition to the work required to bring great library service on a day-to-day basis, people who work in libraries also get to spend some time advocating for literacy, education, access to media, and all sorts of other interesting national issues.

It’s likely no surprise to most people, then, that our largest professional organization, the American Library Association, is currently working hard to have a say in how eBooks are marketed. This recent 6-page report nicely sums up some of the major concerns about eBooks from a library perspective: Will every title be available for libraries to purchase and lend? Will the library be able to keep a digital copy of the book forever, or will it be for a limited time? Will we be able to include access to the book through our catalog, or will we have to link to a separate page?

This is interesting time to be a reader, particularly if you’re a technology enthusiast who has embraced reading books on an eReader, tablet, or smartphone. On one hand, any of these web-connected devices offers unprecedented instantaneous access to a huge number of books.

On the other hand, the devices lend themselves to direct purchasing of titles rather than borrowing from a library or friend to try them out. Out of concern for preserving their profitability (a reasonable concern for any business!), all of the major publishers have put some sort of limit on library access to books. Andrew Albanese of Publisher’s Weekly sums it up nicely in a blog post last week:

“On the publisher side, two of the “Big Six” publishers, Simon & Schuster and Macmillan, do not allow libraries to lend their e-books at all; HarperCollins capped lends at 26 in 2011, and Hachette removed its frontlist titles from library catalogs. Random House, which does make its entire catalog available for e-book lending, recently tripled e-book prices. And Penguin suspended its library e-book lending late last year, although at this year’s ALA is announced it is now participating in a limited “e-book pilot” with the New York Public Library to determine whether and how it might resume offering e-books.”

It’s important to remember that the relationship between libraries and publishers in not adversarial; libraries obviously rely on publishers to provide us with new material to stock our shelves (and e-shelves), and publishers have long benefited from libraries’ promotion of reading and literacy to help them develop relationships with readers who are, after all, their customers.

While all of this is being sorted out, all of us readers could do well to step back and take a look at the lush reading environment that has developed alongside eReaders.  For one thing, despite the limitations mentioned above, the Library’s E Book selection has surpassed 30,000 titles and is growing quickly.  Many popular current titles are available for loan through the OverDrive service.

And the Library is not the only game in town when it comes to free eBooks.  Public Domain books, those for which copyright protection has expired, are available for free, legal download from online collections such as the Internet Archive, Google Books, and Project Gutenberg.  A lot of these scans are from library collections, so you may even get the experience of seeing a stamp or barcode appear on your iPad screen.

If you haven’t thought about trying out some old (time-tested!) titles available via public domain, here are some starting points, presented in “read-alike” format, that you can load on your phone, Nook, Kindle, iPad, or just about any other electronic reading device.

For fans of Sandra Brown, Mary Higgins Clark, and Michael Connelly — it may be an obvious choice, but did you know that you can read Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic Sherlock Holmes stories for free?  Try this collection of “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” to see how the original quirky detective puts the clues together.

If you like sci-fi disaster stories like World War Z or Robin Cook’s Invasion, you may be surprised to find that H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds still packs a visceral punch.

Oz continues to thrive — in addition to the classic movie, authors and artists continue to adapt it, proving that the mysterious alternative universe is still a great platform for creativity.  Find Baum’s original here.

If you love thrillers like those by Dan Brown and James Patterson, Wilkie Collins’ the Woman in White will surely keep you on the edge of your seat.

If you like the self-improvement strategies put forth by the likes of Tony Robbins and Rhonda Byrne, you may get a kick out of Dr. Eliot’s Five Foot Shelf (aka the Harvard Classics), which promise to provide you with all of the materials you need to be an educated person.

And finally, if you liked Keith Richards’ memoir in all its sordid glory, I think you’ll have to check out the original tell-all drug memoir, Thomas de Quincy’s Confessions of an English Opium Eater.  Even old Keef might not have been able to keep up with Quincy, not in writing nor self-abuse.

Do you read eBooks?  Keep current with industry trends?  Have any public domain favorites to share?

-Dan, an eBook advocate who still prefers print.


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I heart free things

Like most people, I appreciate free things when I can get them.  (It’s one of the things I love about the library!)  There are lots of places I turn to regularly for free things, from images to sewing patterns to audio books.  In the spirit of free stuff for everyone, in my next few posts I’ll tell you all about those resources.  Today…copyright-free things!

Copyright law is long and complicated, so much so that I can’t get too in-depth about it in a blog post.  Suffice it to say that for the most part, when we copy a few pages from a book we really liked, or use an image that we found online in a presentation, we are probably falling within the realm of fair use, which allows us to use copyrighted materials for free, so long as they are for personal or educational purposes.  If we decide to publish that presentation though, or even just use an image in a blog posting, we need to tread a little more carefully, because once you start publishing copyrighted things (images, or sounds, or videos, or text), it’s a whole different ballgame.  To make things a little simpler, all of the sources below either have no copyright, or have very liberal use policies.  Enjoy.

  • The Open Photo Project: This is an online community that makes images available to the public.  All images on the site fall under the Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike license, which lets you not only use, but also alter the images or build upon them, so long as you credit the source and license the new creation under the same terms.  Images on the site encompass a variety of categories, from animals to technology. 
  • Opsound: This is similar to the Open Photo Project, but for music and sounds.  Recordings on the site also use the Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike license, so they can be used, dubbed, re-mixed and sampled to your heart’s content.
  • The Prelinger Archives: This is an archival collection of “ephemeral” films (things like stock footage, ads, and educational or corporate films), that has fortunately digitized a great deal of the collection.  Visitors to the site are “warmly encouraged to download, use and reproduce these films in whole or in part, in any medium or market throughout the world. You are also warmly encouraged to share, exchange, redistribute, transfer and copy these films, and especially encouraged to do so for free.”  There are some great films in the collection, and those of you who appreciate “educational” movies about teenage popularity or 50’s-era anti-Communism cartoons (and who doesn’t?) will find this archive especially entertaining. 

 And this is just a sampling of resources!  You might also look at the Free Use Photos Group on flickr, Public Domain Music, or The Public Domain Movie Database to find more copyright-free images, music, or movies. 


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